Grief doesn’t fall into a nice timetable. It has no respect for my schedule. And it showed up in full force yesterday.
The holidays have been hard for me. Our family is in transition and the future is unclear. On top of all those changes, I spent my first Christmas without my dad. And my first New Year. There’s something distancing about stepping into a year that my dad will never see. It feels like I’ve lost yet another point of connection with him.
Add to that, this coming Monday would be his 65th birthday. This week, I’m sandwiched between emotional holiday firsts and a birthday I can no longer celebrate with my father.
Yesterday was scheduled with school. Things like adding links to the paper chain we started this week where all five of us add our own link every day with something for which we are thankful. When the time comes in the next few months to move out of this house that has been our home for the last 18 years, we are going to weave that chain of paper through the empty rooms. Like our way of extending gratitude for the life and memories these walls hold.
So, yesterday school was on the docket. Reading about Charlemagne, practicing penmanship, learning metric system conversions, and teaching the concept of regrouping (Lord, help me). I was standing in the kitchen fixing lunch and I lost it. Tears running down my face, full-on ugly cry. Grieving. Aching. The deep soul kind.
It’s hard to cook pepperoni through a flood of tears.
My tween walks in, sees my tears, and asks if I need a hug. I take it. Paul walks in, sees my face, and immediately folds me into his chest. By the time the microwave beeped that the pepperoni was done, all five of us were intertwined together for the sake of consoling me. I have good people.
The thing is, the tears kept coming. Off and on all day. After doing map work in history, while my 2nd grader use math blocks to solve an equation, and in the basement changing out laundry. None of those moments were expected or convenient. None of it was part of my plan for the day. Not a single tear was on my calendar.
But every single time, my family met me where I was. Every single time. I was not alone in my grief yesterday.
I actually thought I was going to get away with a crying spell last night. I was sitting in the dark bedroom trying to clear myself up while the kids brushed their teeth. I stood up, ready to exit, and in walks my 7 year old. She sees my face.
“Mommy, are you sad again about Granddad?”
And as she wraps her little arms around my waist, she looks up at me and says, “I’m sorry, Mommy. I don’t want you to be sad by yourself.”
Grief wasn’t anticipated, invited, or even welcome yesterday, but had it not been for my grief, I would not have found this beautiful consolation of my family.
In the church, we talk about Christmas as the Incarnation, when God put on flesh. It was, and still is, a miracle that God would enter our world so we would know that we don’t have to go it alone anymore. Yesterday, on the heels of a hard holiday, while still in the midst of the 12 Days of Christmas, the Incarnation happened again. Jesus took up residence in the hugs, kisses, and comfort of my family. And it is no less a miracle to know that they are entering into my journey of grief so I don’t have to go it alone.